- 21 November 2008 | Surfing
The 2008 Reef Hawaiian Pro was always going to be about the new guard of women’s surfing from the opening heat of competition.
Today, Haleiwa crowned it’s youngest-ever Vans Triple Crown of Surfing event champion in 16-year-old Carissa Moore (Honolulu). Moore won her way through every round of the competition from the preliminary trials heat that awarded one wildcard spot into the event. She now leads the 2008 Vans Triple Crown of Surfing series ratings.
Three teenagers and a 36-year-old, seven-times ASP Women’s World Champion featured in the 30-minute final. Moore won, multiple world champ Layne Beachley (Manly, Australia) was second, 17-year-old Laura Enever (Narrabeen, Australia) was third, and North Shore local Coco Ho, 17, was fourth.
Haleiwa’s Ali’i Beach Park offered up clean and highly contestable 4-5 foot surf for the women’s final day of action, with left-handers the order of the day.
While Moore’s rise to the win came with calm, sure-footedness, there was no shortage of drama around her to help pave the road to victory.
First came the fourth place elimination of reigning ASP Women’s World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (Australia) in Quarterfinal 1.
Next came the Quarterfinal defeat of Alana Blanchard (Hawaii), who was hoping for a final finish today to guarantee her qualification onto the 2009 ASP Women’s World Tour.
In the Final, 17-year-old Coco Ho was at the center of drama. A win here would have guaranteed Ho a start on the 2009 elite ASP Womens World Tour, but after finding herself in fourth for most of the heat, her focus shifted to securing the win for Moore.
With less than a minute remaining, Beachley was in need of little more than six points to steal the win from Moore. Ho took off, ping in on Beachley, popping an air above her head and effectively shutting down Layne’s scoring potential in a classic case of schoolgirl tactics.
While it will never be known if Layne would have earned the score she needed to win, it’s disputable that Moore earned the victory on the merits of her surfing alone.
"It was my dream to one day win out here and I’m really happy," said Moore. "I was just praying that Layne wouldn’t get one. I was really thankful that Coco ended up getting that one. I’m definitely thankful that she is one of my best friends. It was an honor to be in that heat with all those girls. It was so close [of a heat] with Layne. And then my really good friends Laura and Coco were surfing really well the entire event."
As with all the ups and downs of Layne’s 19-year career, she took today’s encounter in her stride.
"It was pretty good Hawaiian teamwork," said Beachley. "I’m sure if Coco kicked out of that wave I could have still hit the lip, but as I was bottom-turning I saw Coco go for an air. And, well, that just ruins any chance of doing anything. That’s what happens here in Hawai’i. Also, getting off to a slow start put extra pressure on me."
For Enever, third place in her maiden Hawaii season was a solid result, and she is also on track to win the Vans Triple Crown Nose Guard Rookie of the Year award.
"It’s a dream, I wasn’t even expecting to be in this event then I found out just a few days before that I got in," said Enever. "I’ve just been making heats and having a go. It’s been the birthday of my life to surf epic Haleiwa and now get in the final with my two friends. I’m stoked."
As the final ASP Women’s World Qualifying Series (WQS) event of the year, all eyes will now shift to the next two stops on the Vans Triple Crown to determine the final lineup for the 2009 women’s ASP World Tour: the Roxy Pro (Nov.24-Dec.6) and the Billabong Pro Maui (Dec. 8-20).
The top 6 women on the WQS ratings qualify for the elite World Tour, but at this time, there are three ladies in the WQS top 6 who might still be able to qualify through their 2008 World Tour performances in the upcoming events, thus potentially freeing up spots for Paige Hareb (NZ), Blanchard and Ho to officially qualify. (Moore did not compete on the WQS this year.)
The men’s Round of 64 ran through to heat 13 today, and there was no shortage of upsets there either, especially given the pressure of 4-man heats, qualification points on the line, and relatively small surf for Hawaii standards.
Hawaii’s highest ranked pro on tour, Fred Patacchia, went down, though retiring Pancho Sullivan advanced through the same heat. 2007 ASP World Champion Mick Fanning also lost heavily in his opening heat of the event.